“Insulting”: Domestic Abuse Charities Condemn Johnny Depp’s Industry Award

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Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

Credit: Disney

Pirates of the Caribbean star, Johnny Depp, is currently locked in lawsuits with his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard (Aquaman). The two Hollywood stars have had many legal disputes over the past few years, with more court cases due within the next 12 months. While Depp’s career as Captain Jack Sparrow, and any other of his upcoming projects, are for the time being grounded, that hasn’t stopped his legacy of work from being recognized with an industry award.

However, the controversy surrounding Depp’s and Heard’s legal dispute — which revolve around a series of domestic abuse allegations — has led organizations to condemn this prestigious award.

Three versions of Captain Jack Sparrow
Credit: Disney

Earlier this week it was announced that Johnny Depp will be the recipient of the Donostia Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival. The Donostia Award is the Film Festival’s highest honor with Depp joining the ranks of well-established and versatile actors like Meryl Streep, Dame Judi Dench, and Viggo Mortensen. Their announcement, which came on August 9 this week, is as follows:

Johnny Depp, one of contemporary cinema’s most talented and versatile actors, will receive a Donostia Award on Wednesday, September 22, in the Kursaal Auditorium, during San Sebastian Festival’s 69th edition.

sleepy hollow johnny depp as ichabod crane
Credit: Lionsgate

It is interesting how the lengthy announcement which includes many of Depp’s most famous roles fails to acknowledge the controversy surrounding the well-known actor.

At this time Disney has still not confirmed that Depp will reprise his role as the fan-favorite Captain Jack Sparrow in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean 6Margot Robbie (The Suicide Squad) has been tapped to star in a new Pirates spinoff outside of the reported sixth installment but nothing surrounding Depp’s involvement has yet surfaced.

jack sparrow
Credit: Disney

The actor was asked to resign from his role as the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spinoff, JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, following his loss in the courtroom. The libel case in London last November saw Depp wrapped in a lawsuit with British Tabloid, The Sun, and News Group Newspapers after the newspaper declared Depp a “wife-beater”. He subsequently lost his appeal against the libel trial verdict earlier this year. Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round) has replaced Depp as Dumbledore’s rival for the next installments of the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

johnny depp as gellert grindelwald
Credit: Warner Bros.

Despite many industry supporters – including his previous ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder – still backing Depp, as well as the growing #JusticeForJohnnyDepp movement, many female filmmakers and domestic abuse charities, have called out Depp being the recipient of the Donostia Award.

Per a BBC report:

The Women’s Aid Federation said this was disrespectful to abuse survivors.

Solace Women’s Aid, another charity that is one of its member organisations, said such awards were “misleading” and “insulting”.

amber heard aquaman
Credit: Warner Bros.

In addition to the Donostia Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival, Depp will also be celebrated at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic later this month.

The report goes on to highlight the concerns of the domestic abuse charities and what the industry nod means for abuse survivors across the globe.

Sophie Francis-Cansfield, campaigns and policy manager at Women’s Aid, said: “When a perpetrator is celebrated, allowing them to continue to garner success and public approval suggests that abuse is acceptable and does not matter.

aquaman jason momoa and amber heard
Credit: Warner Bros.

“Survivors must be believed and supported. It is crucial that survivors know that their experiences will be taken seriously and that abuse will not be tolerated by anyone.”

In the same article, Public Affairs Manager for Solace, Erin Mansell, stated:

“When perpetrators of domestic abuse are lauded for their professional achievements in spite of evidence they have assaulted current or former partners, it sends a misleading message to survivors that the abuse doesn’t matter.

“The decision to award this lifetime achievement prize is particularly insulting in the wake of a year where domestic abuse spiralled under conditions needed to address a global pandemic.”

johnny depp grindelwald
Credit: Warner Bros.

Neither the San Sebastian Film Festival nor Depp himself has responded to the condemnations from these domestic abuse charities thus far.

In regards to his ongoing legal battle with Heard, Depp has recently won a motion for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to reveal his ex-wife’s donations after she claimed the money she had received via their divorce settlement had been split between ACLU and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. ACLU has never confirmed with documentation that Heard made these donations despite Depp’s lawyer stating that the fact has been used throughout the domestic abuse allegation lawsuits.

johnny depp and mickey mouse
Credit: D23

The court case regarding Heard’s Op-Ed in The Washington Post is due to go to trial next April in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Rum Diary actress penned an essay revealing she to be the victim of serious domestic abuse at the hands of her now ex-husband, while Depp rebutted the claims and insisted it was he that was the victim of the abuse. Depp is suing Heard for defamation at the sum of $50 million.

Are you following the ongoing legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard?

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